I know it’s been around for a year or more now, but I still can’t stop playing with Google Insights for Search, that small window into the universe of data that Google collects on user behavior. It’s a trend-spotter’s dream, and — particularly with its geographical filters — a potential source of story ideas for journalists.
But what I’m finding fun right now is plugging in brand names and seeing where they’re strong. I offer, by way of example, some vehicle brands and maps showing search volume in the United States:
The four-wheel-drive Subaru line is understandably popular in mountainous, cold-weather states:
Saab has some fans in New England, but that’s about it:
Another ailing GM make, Hummer, still gets some interest in Nevada and Texas (I suspect the bump in interest in Michigan may be mostly from concerned GM stakeholders):
Toyota’s Prius, meanwhile, is especially popular in eco-conscious places such as California and Vermont:
And the Vespa scooter craze seems to have taken hold on the West Coast and, inexplicably, Utah:
When you look at popularity over time for all five brands, you can clearly see how interest in the brands associated with fuel-sipping vehicles spikes during periods when fuel prices are high. No huge surprises here, but it’s fun to see how well search data tracks real-world trends.
Have you used Google’s search trend data for story ideas? Share your tips in the comments.